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If no other proof existed of a predetermination of the British government against a repeal of its orders, it might be found in the correspondence of the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at London and the British secretary for foreign affairs, in 1810, on the question whether the blockade of May, 1806, was considered as in force, or as not in force. It had been ascertained that the French government, which urged this blockade as the ground of its Berlin decree, was willing, in the event of its removal, to repeal that decree ; which being followed by alternate repeals of the other offensive edicts, might abolish the whole system on both sides. This inviting opportunity for accomplishing an object so important to the United States, and professed so often to be the desire of both the helligerents, was made known to the British government. As that government admits that an actual application of an adequate force is necessary to the existence of a legal blockade, and it was notorious, that if such a force had ever been applied, its long discontinuance had annulled the blockade in question, there could be no sufficient objection on the part of Great Britain to a formal revocation of it; and no imaginable objection to a declaration of the fact, that the blockade did not exist. The declaration would have been consistent with her avowed principles of blockade; and would have enabled the United States to demand from France the pledged repeal of her decrees; either with success, in which case the way would have been opened for a general repeal of the belligerent edicts; or without success, in which case the United States would have been justified in turning their measures exclusively against France. The British government would, however, neither rescind the blockade, nor declare its non-existence; nor permit its non-existence to be inferred and affirmed by the American plenipotentiary. On the contrary, by representing the blockade to be comprehended in the orders in council, the United States were compelled so to regard it in their subsequent proceedings.
There was a period when a favourable change in the policy of the British cabinet was justly considered as established. The minister plenipotentiary of his Britannic majesty here, proposed an adjustment of the differences more immediately endangering the harmony of the two countries. The proposition was accepted with the promptitude and cordiality, corresponding with the invariable professions of this government. A foundation appeared to be laid for a sincere and lasting reconcilation. The prospect however quickly vanished. The whole proceeding was disavowed by the British government without any explanations, which could, at that time, repress cause of his Britannic majesty, be suffered to continue that horrible species of warfare which they have heretofore practised against our troops, and those still more horrible depredations upon the peaceable inhabitants of our frontiers ! I have sufficient evidence to show that even the latter have not always been perpetrated by small parties of vagrant Indians, acting at a distance from the British army. Some of the most atrocious instances have occurred under the eyes of the British commander and the head of the Indian department. I shall pass by the tragedy of the river Raisin, and that equally well known which was acted on the Miami river af. ter the defeat of colonel Dudley—and select three other instances of savage barbarity committed under the auspices of general Proctor.-In the beginning of June, a small party of Indians, conducted by an Ottowa chief, who I believe is now with the British army under your command, left Malden in bark canoes, in which they coasted Lake Erie to the mouth of Portage river; the canoes were taken across the Portage to the Sandusky bay, over which the party proceeded to the mouth of Cold creek, and from thence by land to the settlements upon that river, where they captured three families, consisting of one man and twelve women and children. After taking the prisoners some distance, one of the women was discovered to be unable to keep up with them, in consequence of her advanced state of pregnancy. She was immediately tomahawked, stripped naked, her womb ripped open, and the child taken out. Three or four of the children were successively butchered as they discovered their inability to keep up with the party. Upon the arrival of the Indians at Malden, two or three of the prisoners were ransomed by colonel Elliott, and the others by the citizens of Detroit, where they remained until they were taken off by their friends upon the recovery of that place by our army. I have been informed that the savage chief received from colonel Elliott a reprimand for his cruelty,
“On the 29th or 30th of the same month, a large party of Indians were sent from Malden on a war expedition to Lower Sandusky. At a farm house near that place, they murdered the whole family, consisting of a man, his wife, son, and daughter.
“During the last attack upon Fort Meigs by general Proctor, a party headed by a Seneca, an intiinate friend of Tecumseh's, was sent to endeavour to detach from our interest the Shawanese of Wapockanata. In their way thither they murdered several men, and one woman who was working in her cornfield.
“ I have selected, sir, the above from a long list of similar instances of barbarity, which the history of the last fifteen months could furnish; because they were perpetrated, if not in the view of the British commander, by parties who came immediately from his camp and returned to it—who even received their daily support from the king's stores, who in fact (as the documents in my possession will show) form part of his army.
"To retaliate then upon the subjects of the king would have been justifiable by the laws of war and the usages of the most civilized nations. To do so has been amply in my power. The tide of fortune has changed in our favour, and an extensive and flourishing province opened to our arms. The future conduct of the British officers will determine the correctness of mine in withholding it. · If the savages should be again let loose upon our settlements, I shall with justice be accused of having sacrificed the interests and honour of my country, and the lives of our fellow-citizens, to feelings of false and mistaken humanity. You are a soldier, sir, and, as I sincerely believe, possess all the honourable sentiments which ought always to be found in men who follow the profession of arms. Use then, I pray you, your authority and influence to stop the dreadful effusion of innocent blood which proceeds from the employment of those savage monsters, whose aid (as must now be discovered) is so little to be depended upon when it is most wanted, and which can have so trifling an effect upon the issue of the war. The effect of their barbarities will not be confined to the present generation. Ages yet to come will feel the deep-rooted hatred and enmity which they must produce between the two nations.
“I deprecate most sincerely the dreadful alternative which will be offered to me should they be continued, but I solemnly declare, that if the Indians that remain under the influence of the British government are suffered to commit any depredations upon
the citizens within the district that is committed to my protection, I will remove the restrictions which have hitherto been imposed upon those who have offered their services to the United States, and direct them to carry on the war in their own way. I have never heard a single excuse for the employment of the savages by your government, unless we can credit the story of some British officer having dared to assert, that, as we employed the Kentuckians, you had a right to make use of the Indians. If such injurious sentiments have really prevailed, to the prejudice of a brave, well-informed, and virtuous people, it will be removed by the representations of your officers who were lately taken upon the river Thames. They will inform you, sir, that so far from offering any violence to the persons of their prisoners, these savages would not permit a word to escape them which was calculated to wound or insult their feelings, and this too with the sufferings of their friends and relatives at the river Raisin and Miami, fresh upon their recollection.
"P.S. I pledge myself for the truth of the above statement in relation to the murders committed by the Indians.”
General Vincent, in reply, stated, that the account given of the British officers, whom the fortune of war has lately placed at the disposal of the United States, is such, as cannot fail affording very consoling reflections to this army and their anxious friends.
“Though you must be sensible,” continues he, “that there are several points in your letter respecting which it is wholly beyond my power to afford you the satisfaction of an explicit declaration, yet be assured, sir, I shall never feel the smallest degree of hesitation in joining you in any pledge, that it will ever be my anxious wish and endeavour to alleviate as much as possible the fate of those who may fall into my power by the chances of war.
“ Believe me, sir, I deprecate as strongly as yourself the perpetration of acts of cruelty committed under any pretext; and shall lament equally with yourself that any state of things should produce them. No efforts of mine will be ever wanting to diminish the evils of a state of warfare, as far as may be consistent with the duties which are due to my king and country
“ The Indians when acting in conjunction with the troops under my command, have been invariably exhorted to mercy, and have never been deaf to my anxious entreaties on this interesting subject.
“ I shall not fail to transmit the original of your letter to the lower province, for the consideration of his excellency the commander of the forces."
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ANERICAN AND BRITISH MANIFESTOES.
Message of the President of the United States, recommending
the Subject of War to the Consideration of Congress. To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.
I COMMUNICATE to congress certain documents, being a continuation of those heretofore laid before them, on the subject of our affairs with Great Britain.
Without going back beyond the renewal in 1803, of the war in which Great Britain is engaged, and omitting unrepaired wrongs of inferior magnitude, the conduct of her government presents a series of acts, hostile to the United States as an independent and neutral nation.
British cruisers have been in the continued practice of violating the American flag on the great highway of nations, and of seizing and carrying off persons sailing under it; not in the exercise of a belligerent right, founded on the law of nations against an enemy, but of a municipal prerogative over British subjects. British jurisdiction is thus extended to neutral vessels, in a situation where no laws can operate but the law of nations, and the laws of the country to which the vessels belong; and a self redress is assumed, which, if British subjects were wrongfully detained and alone concerned, is that substitution of force, for a resort to the responsi. ble sovereign, which falls within the definition of war. Could the seizure of British subjects, in such cases, be regarded as within the exercise of a belligerent right, the acknowledged laws of war, which forbid an article of captured property to be adjudged, without a regular investigation before a competent tribunal, would imperiously demand the fairest trial, where the sacred rights of persons were at issue.
In place of such trial, these rights are subjected to the will of every petty commander: VOL. II: